Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang visited Tipton Jan. 6, during his Southeast Iowa tour – along with making stops in Fairfield, Washington, Fort Madison, Keokuk, Muscatine, Davenport, Clinton and Monticello.
“Coffee with Andrew Yang” was held at the Oasis Coffee shop in Tipton, with around 60 prospective voters in attendance. Children and young adults surrounded Yang with “Andrew Yang 2020” signs during his presentation and following Q&A session.
Yang is an entrepreneur who started Venture for America (VFA) to help rejuvenate local economies in Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cleveland and give local families, especially growing children, a reason to stay in those communities as they get older. By 2017 more than 500 VFA personnel were trained, launching dozens of companies – creating jobs across the country.
Yang was named Champion of Change in 2012 by the Obama White House, as well as Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship in 2015. With the success of VFA came a realization that jobs were being replaced by automation – computers and robots. Because of this realization, Yang began his campaign for president.
He began talking to the Tipton crowd about big companies, like Amazon, which pay zero dollars in taxes each year – saying the economy doesn’t work for the people. “How will we rewrite the rules to work for you?” asked Yang.
Yang proposed that if he becomes president, he will give citizens 18 years or older $1,000 a month, no questions asked, naming it the Freedom Dividend. The money will come from taxing big companies who are benefiting most from automation.
Yang asked the crowd how and where the extra money from the Freedom Dividend would potentially be spent. The Tipton crowd answered that they would spend their extra $1,000 a month locally with some of it going to big companies – such as Amazon.
“$1,000 a month is a game changer, Yang stated. You might get your own Netflix password instead of sharing.” Yang mentioned that big and small companies would benefit from this dividend.
Locally, the money would help grow the economy by creating more jobs – even encouraging entrepreneurship in hometowns. Citizens would be able to get repairs on their cars they have been putting off, buy diapers and not feel like they are one step away from bankruptcy with an unexpected medical bill.
“Economic value does not equal human value,” Yang stated, when discussing how the country currently views economic growth – mostly based on big companies that use computers and robotics to replace human jobs.
Yang said suicide, mental health and substance abuse are at an all-time high – with life expectancy, entrepreneurship and small town businesses at an all-time low. “I am running for president because I am a parent and a patron said Yang. It is not a future I am willing to accept, and you can change it.”
Before Yang ended his discussion on his presidential ideas, he said, “I am the ideal Democratic candidate because there is nothing more opposite of Donald Trump than an Asian who loves math!” This was in regard to one of his campaign slogans – Make America Think Harder (MATH). Many of the Yang supporters attending the Tipton event were wearing MATH hats to show their support.
Yang then began taking questions from the crowd. One of the first questions was about his healthcare plan and how he proposes to bring down coverage costs. Yang responded, “The system is designed to make money for drug companies and others like it. We need to fight for a lower cost and higher coverage.”
Yang discussed the American healthcare system by focusing on how to lower the cost of prescription drugs. He has a five-part plan to do so: 1. The ability to negotiate drug prices; 2. Use international reference pricing – where the U.S. can’t be charged more for the same drug when other countries are being charged less; 3. Forced licensing on drug companies; 4. Authorize the creation of public manufacturing facilities to make these drugs; 5. Allow importation of drugs from other countries that are charging less.
Other questions from the crowd focused on small farms being consolidated and sold to big producers and the rising issue of climate change. Yang focused on climate change and said we are in it now – living through the negative effects.
Natural disasters are costing billions of dollars, Yang said. The people it affects most are those who are economically disadvantaged. He said the U.S. needs to invest billions of dollars into fixing climate change - focusing on renewable resources of energy and lowering emissions. This will simultaneously create more jobs for the economy.